I am so inspired by Raka Ray that my mind is in an overdrive after what seems like an entire age of lost creativity. For the life of me I couldn’t write a single sentence though constant reading ensured that everywhere I went, so did my colorful monologue. I have always been a bit neurotic and on days when the read gets the better of me my mind twirls in circle with arguments and counter arguments, as if fornicating in an endless tussle. It is a dark retreat.
Although I admire intellectual work by men and women I find that as I grow older I am more drawn towards those that are authored by women. It is not surprising given that my bodily and psychological experiences have more in common with them and because the personal is political (to use a cliché) I am much more affected by what happens to women, their fate and their voice. Therefore as a reader I loved Ray’s Fields of Protest: Women’s movement in India (1999).
The title is self-explanatory, however this isn’t a book review so I will not go into great lengths about it. I leave that for a time when I have more energy to write. All I can say is that I loved the complexity of issues the book touched and the depth in which it dealt with Calcutta and Mumbai women’s struggle against social and economic poverty because what I know of these cities are half-mashed concoctions from films, novels and individual accounts, not to dispute the validity of such views but who can compare against the breadth and depth of a well planned study?
After finishing the book I had a strong impulse to grab my ever-so-read-and-mentioned A Room of One’s Own by Wolf. Of course there are lots of fine essays written on women’s issues but Room of One’s Own is closest to my memory. I was in a literature class. It was no small coincidence that it happened to be my first day amongst a bunch of white Caucasian literature students. Me, the only Asian face, arrived a week ago from exotic Tibet, dealing with wounds and issues that seemed larger than life at the time. That class was my therapy and Wolf’s words jumpstarted my road to recovery.
Like all good works that stand the test of time and interpretation, the below lines fit our context even now despite the fact that some things may have improved since the time Wolf wrote the essay. “For it is (still) a perennial puzzle why no (Tibetan) women wrote much of that extraordinary literature when every other (Tibetan) man, it seemed was capable of a song or a sonnet. What were the conditions in which (Tibetan) women lived?” (Chapter 3, A Room of One’s Own). The inserts are all mine. Pun very much intended.